Cross-Ontario Hospital Deficit "Hot Spots" Map & Health Pre-Budget Analysis Released: Ontario Health Coalition

    TORONTO, March 20 /CNW Telbec/ - In a press conference at Queen's Park
today, the Ontario Health Coalition released a media briefing note and a map
of hospital deficit "hot spots" to watch in advance of Ontario's budget
scheduled for Tuesday. The coalition outlined issues to watch in the upcoming
provincial budget noting that there will be significant controversies
surrounding the budget this year for major health care sectors:

    - Announced hospital funding levels are inadequate to meet population
      growth, aging and inflation. Seventy-five (75) hospitals face deficits
      in 2008-09, with a forecast increase to 104 hospitals facing deficits
      in 2009-10. There will be significant cuts and hospital restructuring
      if these issues are not addressed. The media briefing note contains a
      list of deficits publicly-disclosed to date. The coalition is calling
      for a global funding increase to meet community needs.

    - In long term care homes, the government has been the target of
      aggressive campaigns for increased funding by the companies that own
      and operate the facilities. Unlike previous funding increases which
      have been given without strings attached to improve hands-on care
      levels for residents, this year, the government must attach a
      regulation to any funding increases requiring facilities to provide a
      minimum average standard of 3.5 hours of direct care to residents per
      day. The regulated care standard was a key election promise by Premier
      Dalton McGuinty.

    - Dramatic cost increases in the privatized P3 hospitals warrant caution.
      The government has now announced more than 30 privatized P3 hospitals.
      In all the P3 hospitals to date, cost overruns have amounted to at
      least $1 billion in capital costs alone, and high private financing
      costs are shifting money away from care budgets to bricks and mortar -
      and profit-taking. The Provincial Auditor General is conducting an
      audit on the Brampton Civic Hospital P3. The coalition is calling for a
      moratorium P3s pending the findings of that audit.

    - After a mass protest of more than 1,500 people in Hamilton after the
      non-profit Victorian Order of Nurses and St. Josephs were cut from the
      bidding process in January, the government placed a second moratorium
      on competitive bidding - the practice of tendering out homecare to
      for-profit and non-profit companies to compete for contracts every
      three years. The system has resulted in high administrative costs,
      unpopular dislocation for patients and reduced continuity of care, and
      severe staffing shortages. The government will be announcing its next
      steps in homecare in the next few weeks. The Health Coalition is
      calling for open province-wide hearings on this issue, including the
      potential to create a public non-profit homecare system in Ontario as
      exists elsewhere across Canada.

For further information:

For further information: Natalie Mehra, (416) 230-6402 (cell), (416)
441-2502 (office); Briefing note and map available on the coalition website at

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Ontario Health Coalition

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